What is it Like to Attend Colgate University?

The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach – they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Charlotte is a Boston tutor and 2013 graduate of Colgate University. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Math and French and tutors several subjects, including Algebra tutoring, Calculus tutoring, and French tutoring. Check out what Charlotte had to say about her time at Colgate University:

VT: Describe the campus setting and transportation options. How urban or safe is the campus? Are there buses or do you need a car/bike?

Charlotte: Colgate University is small enough that a car is not necessary to get around campus. I did not have access to a car during the first two years that I was on campus, and I happily walked everywhere. There is a pretty sizable population of students who bike, which is also a convenient way to get around. There are bike racks everywhere, both on campus and in the village of Hamilton. I only had a bike for a few months while I was doing research in the summer of 2012, but I found it really enjoyable!

The farthest a student would have to travel would be to get into town (about a 20-minute walk) or to the townhouses (a form of student housing). They are a similar distance from the main campus. While Colgate University is safe, thanks to the small community feel, there is the trusty Colgate Cruiser that is free to students and Hamilton residents. It runs regularly from campus to town, and it takes about 10 minutes.

VT: How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants?

Charlotte: One of the greatest advantages to Colgate University’s small size is the relationship between professor and student. Even though I graduated over a year ago, I still keep in touch with those professors who truly had an impact on my collegiate experience. While professors are busy, they are entirely willing to set up meetings outside of their office hours. I always had positive experiences with my professors, and I never felt like I was a drain on their time or energy.

VT: How would you describe the dorm life – rooms, dining options, location, and socialization opportunities with other students?

Charlotte: All first-year living is located on the main campus, and it provides an exceptional outlet for socialization and support. Many of the dorms are suite-style, providing ample common space to meet all the new people who are around! Almost all of Colgate University’s academic buildings are within a five-minute walk from the first-year dorms, allowing the new class to immediately feel like part of the community.

There were two main dining halls during my time at Colgate University. I am aware that there have been several changes since, so I will only comment on my experience. The main dining halls always had many options, from basic pasta bars to a large variety of vegan and vegetarian options. There was also a fully stocked (and delicious) salad bar that I definitely took advantage of!

VT: Which majors/programs are best represented and supported? What did you study and why? Did the university do a good job supporting your particular area of study?

Charlotte: I chose my double major because it challenged multiple aspects of my intellect. I loved studying Math because there was a sense of community amongst all of the students who trudged their way through challenging classes like Number Theory, and who still loved the subject so much. There were also donuts and bagels twice a week, which definitely helped me through some rough weeks. French was an entirely different experience because I was able to study abroad through a Colgate University program. The support Colgate University gives to its study abroad students was certainly one of the strengths of all the foreign language programs.

VT: How easy or difficult was it for you to meet people and make friends as a freshman? Does Greek life play a significant role in the campus social life?

Charlotte: Because of the way that first-year housing is organized, meeting people is not a problem. I became very attached to all of my dormmates who lived on the same floor as me, and I could even name every person who lived in my dorm. I met even more people when I joined Delta Delta Delta as a sophomore. While there are only a few fraternities and sororities on campus, they do have solid control over many of the largest social events. However, the greatest strength of the system is that recruitment does not begin until sophomore year for both men and women. I was thus able to establish meaningful friendships outside of the Greek system. This was essential to my experience because it never felt like I only had one social option.

VT: How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services? Do many reputable companies recruit on campus? 

Charlotte: Colgate University has a very successful Career Services office that was constantly bringing interesting companies to campus. There is a Colgate University-only career portal that connects students directly to posted positions. On top of the great services provided here, the alumni network is incredibly strong and willing to help fellow members of the Colgate University community.

VT: How are the various study areas such as libraries, the student union, and dorm lounges? Are they over-crowded, easily available, spacious?

Charlotte: Every dorm for every year has at least one study space per floor. Even in the on-campus apartments for upperclassmen, there is a communal space that is open to all people who live there. These spaces are clean, generally quiet, and conducive to group study. They are quite convenient too, never more than a few steps from any room! Additionally, almost all academic buildings have at least one dedicated study space, or individual study rooms. These are honestly hard to come by during exam weeks, but there are so many options that finding a seat is possible.

There are multiple libraries on campus, but the biggest and most beautiful is Case-Geyer. There are five floors, and each floor has a different feel that makes finding your preferred atmosphere easy. There is even a silent reading room on the fifth floor that looks out on the beautiful Chenango Valley that surrounds Colgate University.

VT: Describe the surrounding town. What kinds of outside establishments / things to do are there that make it fun, boring, or somewhere in between? To what extent do students go to the downtown area of the city versus staying near campus? 

Charlotte: Colgate University is in Hamilton, New York, which has a population of about 4,000 when school is not in session. The student body roughly doubles the population, making for a small-town feel. It is possible to get to Syracuse (about an hour away) for many restaurants and the airport. However, Hamilton is an extremely welcoming town, and staying in town is always fun. No matter what you do on any given night, if you head downtown, you will certainly run into someone you know. There are several restaurants and a few bars that offer options for the weekend. Almost everyone goes downtown for amusement.

VT: How big or small is the student body? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes?

Charlotte: Colgate University has an undergraduate student body of less than 3,000, which makes the community very tight-knit. There is a closeness felt by everyone who has gone to Colgate University, and part of it is this small, concentrated environment. I was extraordinarily happy with class sizes. The largest class I ever took had about 30 people in it, and that was a first-year chemistry class. After that, the average for my classes was probably less than 20. The size definitely contributed to the feeling that teachers had time to focus on each class, and even more than that, on each student.

VT: Describe one memorable experience with a professor and/or class. Perhaps one you loved the most or one you regret the most.

Charlotte: I had many exceptional experiences in the classes for my major, but the best thing about Colgate University was the focus on the liberal arts model. I was able to take an Urban Geography class as a junior that really changed how I interact with the world around me. It was remarkable that I could take an advanced geography class, and not only succeed in the class, but have it change the path I would take in the future. The professor was excited to help me adjust to the way the class was taught, and really helped me see how intertwined the urban landscape is.

Check out Charlotte’s tutoring profile.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.